|Life Coach vs. Career Coach - Part One|
“Do you know the difference between Life Coach vs. Career Coach? Do credentials matter? Are there just too many coaches out there?”
Google the word life coach or career coach and you will be inundated with names of individuals or businesses providing that service. It has become a very saturated market where almost anyone can hang out their shingle. When you peruse the coaching sites you are treated to even more specialities such as spiritual coach, relationship coach, retirement coach, performance coach, intuitive coach and business coach. Though, there are some coaches who do have credentials that match their area of expertise there are just as many who claim a specialization in areas for which they have no training. One such area that seems to get lumped in with all those titles is career coaching. Since this is part of my profession I decided to do some investigation.
Here are a few of the bios I encountered:
Not one of the above examples provided any claims on their websites to have studied or trained specifically as a career practitioner, let alone worked in an employment centered office. May be that was an oversight on their part but I venture to guess not. Many coaches have ICF stamped prominently on their site, in fact, there are a lot of training schools, associations and federations that build and support our coaching community. That is not to say that all of the people with these affiliations or designations are still working within the framework or competencies expected of them. These stamps of approval are possibly helpful to the consumer but they are also so prevalent that they may be losing credibility.
Being a life coach or having experienced a career transition does not a Career Coach make. Career practitioners have specific training that goes beyond what a life coach provides. Though, work and life are intertwined there are many other factors that influence career and educational planning along with job search; not the least of which is the labour market itself. As practitioners we obtain certification in Labour Market analysis. Yes, initially clients might perceive that to be “the boring stuff” but they quickly learn just how important that piece is. We instruct participants and clients in how to conduct that research for their own self sufficiency; they never see their world the same way again. With eyes wide open they come to understand the labour market information resources and how to use that to predict future trends which may influence their careers. Clients need to know where to look for current, relevant information with regards to specific industries or occupations. The environment, politics, societal changes, technology, education, workplace and economics are all strong influencers on career options and success. Yes, personal research and self discovery is integral to the coaching process but so is the investigative research of occupations and the market.
Specific career and personal assessments are used which often need the practitioner to be certified in order to effectively assist the client(s).We are also expected to keep abreast of the changes to resume design and self marketing which includes interview preparation. Similar to the ever changing labour market, self promotion over the years changes too. Outdated resumes are commonly produced by those that are not keeping up to employer or industry expectations. As for job interviews...there are multiple types of interviews conducted. Practitioners prepare clients on how to put their best foot forward in that arena too.
I believe the coaching consumer will want to understand the difference between designations in order to make an informed choice of what practitioners makes sense to their needs. I also believe the world is full of helpers, which is nice but even helpers have an ethical responsibility to work within the boundaries of professional competence. All private practitioners must clearly advertise their areas of expertise and the experience and/or education that relates. There are millions of coaches in virtual offices today and like too many cooks in a kitchen can spoil a broth, too many coaches without clear definition can spoil the integrity of the service. It is truly buyer beware.
In part two of this piece I will speak with Sareena Hopkins – Co-Executive Director at the Canadian Career Development Foundation. She will speak about standards and guidelines within the career development industry. Guidelines as she puts its that are indeed the first of their kind in the world and have been used as a model by many other countries.
Note: Author attempted to contact the International Coach Federation and a Life Coaching educational centre in British Columbia to provide information for this article, no response from either.